Album review: TRAGEDY – Disco Balls To The Wall

Napalm Records [Release date 30.07.21]

It was a genius idea to take some classic disco and pop music hits from the 70’s and 80’s, add some very loud guitars into the mix and crank things up to the max. Fortunately, six native New Yorkers had this very idea and Tragedy was born, unleashing an absolute of torrent of city block decimating heavy metal decibels and glitter upon the world. With eight releases already under their studded leather belts, the band have now signed to Napalm Records and this greatest hits is the first fruit from the new partnership, cherry picking some of their finest moments that provide the perfect primer of this high voltage, mirror ball madness.

Kicking off the fourteen-track smorgasbord in suitably gonzoid manner, ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)’ is a no holds barred, gloriously OTT retooling of the ABBA classic. Done with as much heart as humour, there appears here and throughout, a genuine love for the song writing, the band tailoring their style in subtle ways to suit the tracks themselves.

‘You’re The One That I Want’ glories in a huge intro before launching itself into unhinged fun, as Tragedy add their own little kinks and twists to the recording whilst ‘Evil / Baker Street’ is given a big, ballsy AOR treatment that throws in a power metal vibe too. There’s more of a Glam Rock feel to ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’, the latter coming off like Sweet meets early Def Leppard.

The brilliant mash up of ‘Raining Blood / It’s Raining Men’ throws suitably thrashing guitars and maniacal drums and bass at the Weather Girls staple, the original the favourite song of Homer Simpson it is rumoured, although quite what the cartoon character would make of this version is anyone’s guess. After that, ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ seems too much of a comedown and verges on the bland but this is quickly forgotten with the metal rush of ‘Aquarius / Let The Sunshine In’ and their ballsy take on Toto’s ‘Africa’.

Equalling the lack of restraint shown by the original, ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ is suitably bombastic and you feel that the late, great Jim Steinman would heartily approve as everything but the kitchen sink is thrown into this mini rock opera. Having saved the aforementioned sink, it’s then thrown into their take on the titular ‘Tragedy’, the track an absolute monster that turns up everything to way past eleven on the amps and this pattern of throwing any or all caution out of the window in the blazing, hard rock chaos that is ‘Dancing Queen’.

It’s just down to ‘Skyfall’, the Bond theme as it SHOULD be heard (the campaign starts here for Tragedy to write and perform the theme for the 26th outing of the super spy) and a vibrant live version of ‘Hot Stuff’ that features Alex Skolnick from Testament on guitar to wipe away the last vestiges of resistance. Whilst the proposal of melding campy disco, pop and blistering metal might sound an utter car crash, Tragedy manage to pull it all off with style and a deftness of touch that defies all expectations. Crafted with love, ‘Disco Balls To The Wall’ is an unalloyed triumph and shows you can’t keep a good song down, shoving ten thousand volts into its multi coloured dancefloor soul, a phoenix arising from the flames of one of Tony Manero’s discarded cigarettes. ****1/2

Review by Paul Monkhouse

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